Long-time Supima executive Jesse Curlee will retire at the end of the year after more than 36 years with the premium American cotton brand.
Curlee began his career with Phoenix based Supima in October of 1979 as general manager; in 1981 he was named President/CEO.
Since then American Pima cotton production rose from an annual average of 75,000 bales to more than 850,000 bales. He also worked to expand production to California in the late 1980’s where today over 90 percent of American Pima cotton is produced.
During his career with Supima Curlee promoted the introduction of Supima to the fashion industry with the start of its now-recognized and respected annual Supima Design Competition and fashion runway show during Fashion Week in New York City.
Under Curlee’s leadership, Supima began a licensing program for customers wanting to use the Supima name. Japan was the first to license the use of Supima in the 1980s. Supima now licenses the name and trademark worldwide to spinners, knitters, weavers, manufacturers, brands and retailers with over 370 licensees in 39 countries.
In that time the Supima name has grown to worldwide recognition as the “World’s Finest Cottons,” as evidenced by the demand of many of the world’s top designers and brand name retailers in their growing use and loyalty to the Supima name. There is absolutely no doubt the American Pima cotton industry would not be what it is today without his valuable contributions and skillful leadership.
“On behalf of the entire membership, staff and Supima Board of Directors, we sincerely thank Jesse for his valuable contributions, passionate leadership and dedication to the American Pima cotton industry,” said Supima Chairman Keith B. Deputy, a cotton grower from New Mexico.
“Jesse has been a strong leader and advocate for Supima and has made a tremendous impact in the promotion and advancement of Supima cotton. There is no doubt that everyone who Jesse has worked with will join us in wishing him the very best in his future adventures.”
Current Executive Vice President Marc A. Lewkowitz will assume the duties of President/CEO effective Jan. 1, 2016. Lewkowitz has been with Supima for over 12 years, working closely with Curlee in developing the Supima brand and growing the licensing program.